x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

We have wills, but is there a way?

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My husband and I had both of our wills drawn up in the UK after our two children were born, but friends have told us they may not apply here. We do not own property here - just a car! So do we need to make our wills Sharia-compliant? It seems to be quite a costly process. AH Dubai In short, no you don't. Also, there is no such thing as a "Sharia-compliant will", as people use this term to mean one that circumvents the application of Sharia law. Provided the wills reflect your current wishes, then they are fine. Drawing up a further will would invalidate the ones you have now. As you are British citizens, and presumably UK-domiciled, then you must write wills under the laws of the UK, as you will be subject to UK inheritance tax and regulations no matter where you reside.

Sharia law as applied in the UAE is relevant only to assets held in the Emirates, and ideally you will keep your money offshore. Should either of you die while you are a resident of the UAE, you would then need to have the will translated and attested, but there is no need to do that now. You should, however, do the following things: ? Draw up a "Letter of Wishes" to provide for an interim guardian for your children in the UAE. This must be signed by two witnesses.

? Make sure you have your own bank account for money you can access outside the UAE, as in the event of your husband's death any accounts with your husband's name on them, whether single or joint, will be frozen indefinitely. ? Be aware that vehicles are also impounded if in your husband's name, so it's best to have at least one in your own name. Sadly, I hear of too many people being given wholly incorrect information regarding the writing of wills while residents in the UAE.

It is best to avoid the so-called will writers, who have done little more than take a course, and to seek advice only from a lawyer experienced in family law. I can recommend suitable professionals if you need them. I have a new job starting in August and my visa is currently being cancelled by my existing employer. My current job ends in four weeks and I am going for a break back to the UK before starting with my new company. I have been hearing rumours that my bank account will be inactive as soon as my gratuity goes into it. Is this true? I have loan payments coming out of my bank account so can't afford to have it not working. Can you shed any light on this? Does it vary from bank to bank? CE Abu Dhabi

It is standard practice for most banks to freeze an account when they receive a payment from an employer marked as "final payment". Unless you have outstanding debts or loans, it should be immediately unfrozen once you contact them to explain the situation. Banks do this to ensure that the money in your current account is directed to your debts with them and not withdrawn.

If you have a new, written employment contract, then you may need to show this to the bank as a form of security, because many institutions are wary of people potentially absconding without settling their debts. The bank's helpfulness may vary depending on who you bank with and speak to. If you have any difficulties, please come back to me as I am likely to have contacts at the bank that can assist.

I retired three years ago but have remained in the UAE as my destination of choice using the property I own in Dubai as the means to obtain a residence visa. The recent changes to the visa law restrict me to renewal every six months, which is most inconvenient - in many situations, such as re-registering my vehicle, I am required to present my passport with 12 months of visa validity. My daughter and her family are also residents in the UAE. I understand that children may sponsor parents, but do they have to be dependents? As my wife and I are of independent means, would that disqualify our son-in-law from sponsoring us? We want to enjoy another three years before having to renew our residence visa. IS Dubai

UAE residents who have a valid residency visa are permitted to sponsor parents for a period of up to one year at a time. The guidelines state that the parents must demonstrate that they are financially dependent on their adult child and that there is no one in their home country who can take care of them. There are also various monetary requirements. As you own a property in the UAE, are of independent means and are already a resident, it is clear that you are not dependent on your daughter and son-in-law, and in your case such an application would not be approved by the authorities.

I have a number of unsecured loans with two different banks in the UAE, for fairly substantial sums, and am interested to know if my parents back in France would be liable for paying them back if I died. FB Abu Dhabi When someone dies, any debts they leave are paid out of their estate (the money and property that they own), prior to passing money to beneficiaries. Anyone else is liable for the debts of the deceased only if the liabilities were held jointly or someone acted as a guarantor for that person.

Note that in the case of a husband and wife, the money owed to creditors takes priority in the distribution of assets, so they must be repaid before other assets are passed to beneficiaries, including the spouse. Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at keren@holbornassets.com Letters can also be sent to onyourside@thenational.ae